He was a teacher. A sixth grade teacher. Anyone who knows anything about children knows that sixth graders are a day to day transitional mix of tweenage hormones and still-a-child impulses. And yet, that’s the group he aimed for, worked with, laughed with, and by whom he was respected and admired. The first day of sixth grade, my daughter bounded off the bus, every sentence started with “Mr. Griffith” and she was all smiles. I built an immediate image of this man in my head... Youngish, attractive, talkative, so imagine my surprise when I went to the “back to school night” a few weeks later and said hello to a man closing in on retirement, somewhat quiet, and yet with a knowing smile. Though he was her homeroom teacher and thus taught more than his core subject, his true love was math, and he passed that love on to her and the other students. When she had the opportunity, like the other girls, she’d hug him and bring him treats.
He gave the students an assignment... To write letters to their future selves when they were about to graduate from high school. The end of sixth grade came and went and the children moved on to the next chapters in their lives.
Fast forward to ten years later, and it’s my younger daughter, now a senior in high school. Her friends have been coming to school each day telling a common story. Letters have been arriving in the mail. The students who had Mr. Griffith for a teacher back in sixth grade are all getting letters from themselves. My younger daughter did not have him and there’s a certain level of wistfulness reflected in her voice. It brings back the memory of her sister actually receiving her letter and it underscores something for me: the things we do matter. The things that we know are important to others, when honored and fulfilled, really do matter.
When you look back on earlier days in your relationships, in your family, in your work, what are the things that mattered to you? What things did you want to remember?
And carried into your work, specifically, what was it, back when you started, that fueled your passion for real estate? Other than earning a paycheck, which you can do at any job, what was it about real estate that inspired you, drew you in, carried you through the start-up and the rough initial moments? What lit your passion for this crazy thing we do each and every day?
I think if each of us could have written a letter to our future selves, reminding us about what we value and telling ourselves what we expect of ourselves, what we deserve, and what we hope for, it would have been an amazing insight. How close would we be now to where we dreamt we’d be?
And.... remember... It’s never too late to make a good path for that future self.
Hey, I have an idea.
If you just grab a paper and a pen, I think you know what it is.